Autism spectrum disorder

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)

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For Prelims

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)

  • ASD is a developmental disability caused by physiological changes in the brain.
  • ASD encompasses a range of psychological disorders characterised by some level of impaired social behaviour, communication and language, and a narrow range of interests and activities that are both unique to the individual and carried out repetitively.
  • Individuals who are on the autistic spectrum experience difficulties with social communication and interaction and also exhibit restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities.
  • These symptoms can be typically recognized between the age of one and two years.
  • However, many of children who are affected by this disorder are not finally diagnosed until they are older.
  • Autism is referred to as “spectrum” due to the variation in the type and severity of symptoms.
  • Autism is not mental retardation as people with autism may show excellent skills in spheres like art, music, writing etc.
  • The United Nations General Assembly in 2008, unanimously declared 2nd April as World Autism Awareness Day.


  • The cause for autism spectrum disorder has not yet been identified.
  • Given the complexity of the disorder and the fact that symptoms and severity vary, it can be assumed that there are many causes including genetics and environment.
  • Several different genes appear to be amongst the causes in autism spectrum disorder.
  • Some disorders in the autism spectrum such as Rett syndrome or fragile X syndrome can be associated with a genetic disorder.
  • Meanwhile for others, genetic changes (mutations) may only increase the risk of autism spectrum disorder.
  • At the same time some genetic mutations seem to be inherited, while others occur spontaneously.


  • While currently there exists no cure for Autism, its symptoms can be addressed with appropriate interventions like psychosocial interventions, behavioural treatment and skills training programmes for parents and other caregivers, health promotion, care, rehabilitation services, etc.

Source “The microbiome link to autism disorders